Kiefer enjoyed ‘the people’ during 26 years with city



JASPER — Everybody knows Al Kiefer.

They know him for his kindness. For his willingness to help anyone in need. And for the pride that he took in a job that was crucial to the place he loves.

The Jasper man worked as the City of Jasper’s maintenance superintendent for 26 years, and last week, he sailed off into retirement.

“I look back, and I feel like I accomplished what I wanted to,” said Kiefer, 66. “I left there ... I think I left everything in as good a shape as I possibly could for the next person.”

His time with the city began when the current city hall building on Main Street first opened. Before that, he worked as the foreman at Jasper Lumber. Former Mayor Bill Schmitt approached him one day while Kiefer was laying concrete and offered him the job.

Over the years, Kiefer took care of a number of city facilities. These included city hall, the Jasper Police Station, Enlow City Cemetery, Spirit of Jasper Train Depot and more.

“I was pretty well around everywhere,” he said with a laugh.

Kiefer’s work was extremely varied. He would clean the facilities, work on their electrical systems and fix up the trains. He constructed signs at Central Green and the Jasper Youth Sports Complex with Steve Hall, built the loading dock at the train station, helped decorate for holidays and Strassenfest, cleaned holding cells at the police station in the wee hours of the morning, and shoveled snow to make sure employees could safely arrive to work.

Whatever needed done, he did it.

And if he couldn’t do the work himself, he’d call in contractors to get the job done.

“Basically, you’re on call 24/7,” Kiefer said. “But it was fun. I enjoyed doing everything. Meeting the people, that was the neatest part. You met so many different people.”

Those people changed him. Kiefer remembers them as role models. He looked up to the mayors and police chiefs who showed him how to be a good leader. Others showed him how to be a friend — how to work hard and have a good time at the same time.

“I got along with everybody,” he remembered. “I don’t think there was a person down there that I had any trouble with.”

One of those role models was Lisa Bower, who has worked at city hall for four years as an administrative assistant to the mayor. Kiefer said Bower was “one of the best persons” he ever worked with. He recalled how she always came to work in a bubbly mood with a smile on her face.

Bower remembers Kiefer as a kind man who would help anyone. A few months ago, she called him when her car wouldn’t start, and Kiefer fixed up her ride and followed her home just to make sure she returned safely.

“He’s a very caring person,” Bower said. “And he will drop anything that he’s doing and help.”

One day, when Kiefer was tending to the trains at the Jasper Train Depot, Jim Dora Jr., president and CEO of General Hotels, popped his head in the station. Dora told Kiefer that he loves trains, and Kiefer gave him an impromptu tour of the city’s locomotives.

That’s just the kind of guy Kiefer is. Dora would later say that Kiefer’s display of friendliness led to his decision to bring the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott to Jasper.

Though he will be missed, Kiefer will still be near. He plans on vacationing in Florida for a few weeks, and after he returns, staying busy won’t be an issue. Whether he’s golfing, completing construction odd jobs, or hunting and fishing, there will always be something for him to do.

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